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What colors are in coral color?

What colors are in coral color?

Coral is a beautiful color that evokes images of tropical oceans and reefs. But what exactly makes up the color coral? Coral is actually a blend of several different colors that work together to create its bright but muted orange-pink tone. In this article, we’ll break down the different color components that make up coral and look at how you can recreate this color by mixing other shades. We’ll also explore some of the psychology and symbolism behind this vibrant hue.

The Origins of Coral Color

The name “coral” comes from the skeletal material made by small marine animals called coral polyps. Coral reefs in tropical seas contain these coral animals in great numbers, clustered together to form large structures. The calcium carbonate skeletons of the coral polyps have a pinkish-orange hue, which led to them being called “coral” and that color term being adopted.

So while true coral color comes from nature, the coral shade we see in paints, fabrics, and plastics is an artificial approximation of the living coral in oceans. But it still tries to capture that same lively yet muted orangey-pink look.

Primary Colors in Coral

Coral contains a blend of the primary colors red, yellow, and white:

Primary Color Contribution
Red Provides a pinkish-orange hue
Yellow Adds a golden orange tone
White Softens and lightens the color

The interplay of these three primary colors creates the warm, peachy-pink character of coral. The red gives it a rosy orange base, the yellow shifts it toward a lighter orange, and the white softens the intensity. Different balances of the three primaries result in various shades of coral.

Secondary Colors in Coral

In addition to the primaries, coral also contains subtle hints of these secondary colors:

Secondary Color Contribution
Orange Gives coral its citrusy orange undertone
Violet Provides a slight purple tinge

The secondary color orange is closely related to the primary colors already present in coral – red and yellow. It strengthens the warm orange notes. Violet is the mix of red and blue, so it adds just a tiny hint of purple to balance out the orange. This gives coral a nice color tension.

Tertiary Colors in Coral

As a blend of both primary and secondary colors, coral can also be said to contain these tertiary colors:

Tertiary Color Contribution
Red-orange Gives coral its pink-orange hue
Yellow-orange Provides a golden orange tint
Red-violet Adds a hint of pinkish-purple

Red-orange and yellow-orange are vibrant blends of the primary colors already present in coral, intensifying its orange tones. Red-violet contributes the slightest touch of purple from the violet secondary color.

Shades of Coral Color

Coral encompasses a wide range of shades from light peachy-pink to deeper orangey-reds. Here are some of the most common shades of coral:

Coral Shade Description
Salmon Soft pinkish orange with more red
Peach Pale pinkish orange with more yellow
Apricot Warmer pinkish orange tone
Melon Vibrant reddish orange
Tomato Bright red-orange
Persimmon Deep vivid orange with red undertones

These shades span from the very pale peach to the vivid persimmon, all with coral’s signature pinkish-orange character.

How to Mix Coral Color

If you want to recreate coral color, you can mix together paints, dyes, or pigments in these approximate proportions:

– Red – 30-40%
– Yellow – 15-25%
– White – 25-35%

Adjust the amounts to create lighter or darker coral variations. Adding more white makes it paler, while increasing the red and yellow makes it more saturated. Small amounts of orange and violet dyes can enhance the color too.

You can also mix complementary colors like green and red to dull them down into a coral shade. Glazing over orange with pink is another coral mixing technique.

Use of Coral Color

Coral is a warm, happy color that started gaining popularity in interior design and fashion in the 1950s and 60s. Some key uses of coral color include:

– Clothing – Coral suits, dresses, shirts bring a lively pop of color.
– Makeup – Flattering shade for lipsticks, blush, eye shadows.
– Home Decor – Uplifting hue for wall paint, pillows, furniture accents.
– Flowers – Many flowers come in coral shades, like roses, peonies, carnations.
– Food – Salmons, tropical fruits like mangos and papayas are coral-colored.

Psychology of Coral

Coral color has these psychological and symbolic associations:

– Energy – Coral radiates positivity and youthful energy.
– Warmth – The color conveys warmth, like a tropical vacation.
– Playfulness – Coral has a fun, lighthearted attitude.
– Femininity – Its soft pink tones give it a feminine aura.
– Love, romance – Coral relates to love and romance.
– Appetite – As a food color, coral stimulates the appetite.

People are drawn to coral’s cheerful vibe. It provides a positive energizing splash of color.

Coral in Nature

In nature, coral color occurs in these settings:

– Oceans – In coral reefs, coral polyps, sea shells, crustaceans.
– Flowers – Coral roses, hibiscus, lilies, peonies, carnations.
– Birds – Flamingos, orioles, orange mockingbirds have coral plumage.
– Minerals – Some quartz and agate stones exhibit coral banding.
– Plants – Tropical fruit like persimmons, guavas, mangoes are coral-hued.
– Fish – Koi, goldfish, salmon, and other fish display coral pigments.
– Insects – Butterfly wings, ladybugs, dragonflies incorporate coral tones.
– Sunrises, sunsets – Sky often turns shades of coral during sun transitions.

In nature, coral color stands out against blue and green backdrops, creating vivid contrast.

Coral in Art and Design

Throughout history, coral has been an important color in art and design:

– Prehistoric Art – Coral ochre was used in cave paintings.
– Ancient Greece – Deities were represented in coral-colored robes.
– Renaissance Art – Paintings used coral for warmth and skin tones.
– Impressionism – Coral captured ephemeral light in landscapes.
– 20th Century – Matisse, Mondrian, Mod incorporated coral.
– Textiles – Used in Oriental rugs, embroidered fabrics.
– Pottery – Glazes, mineral pigments created coral finishes.
– Modern Design – Mid-century modern embraced coral accents.

From ancient Greek statues to 60s pop art, coral has brought its signature vibrancy to many artistic movements.

Coral Dyes and Pigments

Some colors used historically to create coral shades include:

– Red Ochre – Red clay earth pigment, one of the earliest pigments.
– Madder – Red dye from madder plant roots.
– Vermilion – Vivid red-orange mercury sulfide mineral.
– Realgar – Ancient orange-red arsenic sulfide pigment.
– Carmine – Deep red dye from cochineal insects.
– Cadmium red – Modern red cadmium pigment.
– Chrome orange – Mix of lead chromate and lead sulfate.

Many natural earths, minerals, plants and creatures have been the source of vibrant coral pigments.

Coral in Culture and Society

Coral has symbolic resonance in cultures worldwide:

– China – Coral red is an auspicious wedding color.
– India – Known as gulabi, coral denotes love and kindness.
– Japan – Coral represents female energy and seduction.
– Ancient Rome – Coral gems were thought to protect children.
– Polynesia – Coral jewelry is worn as protection from evil spirits.
– Africa – For some, coral symbolizes life and fertility.
– Western Culture – Coral suggests warmth, energy, cheer.

From the East to the West, coral has been prized aesthetically and symbolically across cultures.


Coral is a rich color with many subtle shadings from soft peach to vivid tomato. Its blend of primary red, yellow, and white – with touches of orange, violet, and other hues – gives coral its one-of-a-kind color profile. This vibrant yet relaxed shade has decorated our world throughout history and continues to energize us with its sunny personality. So whether you see it in sea creatures, flowers, fabrics, or sunsets, coral’s joyful spirit shines through. When you want to add some color and positivity, think of nature’s coral creation.